On Wednesday 20 January 1819 Keats arrived in Chichester where (as he told his brother and sister-in-law) “I took down some of the thin paper and wrote on it a little poem called St. Agnes’s Eve”.
Here is the opening stanza:
St Agnes’ Eve—Ah, bitter chill it was!
The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
The hare limp’d trembling through the frozen grass,
And silent was the flock in woolly fold:
Numb were the Beadsman’s fingers, while he told
His rosary, and while his frosted breath,
Like pious incense from a censer old,
Seem’d taking flight for heaven, without a death,
Past the sweet Virgin’s picture, while his prayer he saith.